header image

[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
March 1
1990 - President George H.W. Bush and Sheriff Sherman Block dedicate new North County Correctional Facility in Castaic [story]
ribbon cutting

bennett-rod-2-val-pryor-newhall-051616A new scholarship trust fund established to honor the life and legacy of late Santa Clarita teacher, musician and sportsman Rod Bennett will help graduating seniors from the Wm. S. Hart Union High School District in the Santa Clarita Valley pursue their higher education goals.

The Rod Bennett Memorial Scholarship Trust Fund was set up by his wife, Valerie Pryor, and will launch in January 2017.

Bennett, a much-loved band director-music teacher and math instructor at Arroyo Seco Junior High School in Valencia, was also an active performing and recording musician, avid sportsman, seasoned traveler and wine connoisseur.

He was riding his cycle on Placerita Canyon Road in Newhall when he was struck and killed by a car driven by an impaired driver on May 25, 2016. Bennett was just 53. (Read his obituary.) In November, the driver was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Bennett and Pryor met in 1985, when both attended UCLA and played in the marching band. They married seven years later, in 1992, and enjoyed an especially close and happy relationship, sharing a love for travel, music, sports and wine (not necessarily in that order). Pryor, a Valencia resident, is administrative services manager/chief financial officer at Castaic Lake Water Agency.

“As a math and music teacher, Rod gave so much to the Santa Clarita community, and I want to honor him by continuing to give in his name,” Pryor said.

“Music and teaching meant so much to him, and teaching the students music and seeing them discover and grow in music meant a lot to him,” she said. “I want to continue his contributions to the community.”

Pryor will inaugurate the Rod Bennett Memorial Music Scholarship Trust Fund with two $2,000 scholarships to be awarded by the Santa Clarita Valley Scholarship Foundation in May at the Senior Awards at the individual school sites. The 501(c)3 nonprofit organization grants up to $250,000 in scholarships each year to graduating seniors attending Hart District high schools.

The initial $2,000 grants will go to students who have spent at least two years in a Hart District music program in the high school band, preferably at Arroyo Seco and/or Saugus High School, and intend to continue their education at a two- or four-year college. Preference would be given to college-bound students who plan to study or major in music and/or music education.

For the long term, Pryor has set up the Rod Bennett Memorial Scholarship Trust Fund as a division of the Charitysmith Nonprofit Foundation (EIN 87-0636433).

“That way, others whose lives Rod touched, or who want to support the kind of music mentoring he did, can donate to the scholarship trust fund as well,” Pryor said. “I will also continue to donate to the fund, and as it grows, I can offer additional scholarships.”

As one can imagine, Bennett’s sudden death devastated Pryor and his family, and hit the Santa Clarita Valley community hard, especially his young students, who revered him not only as a teacher, but also as a musical mentor.

Beyond his regular classes, Bennett opened his Arroyo Seco classroom to music students during lunch and after school, hosting an informal “rock club” where the kids could jam and rehearse.

“By donating to this fund, especially during the holidays, people can give the gift of education and especially music education to deserving students who embody the love for and dedication to music that was so much a part of Rod’s life,” Pryor said.

To contribute to the Rod Bennett Memorial Scholarship Trust Fund, go to RodBennettMemorialFund.org and click on the “donate now” button.

Hart District seniors graduating in 2017 may apply for one of the $2,000 inaugural Rod Bennett Memorial Scholarships at scvsf.org. Click “apply” and download the application. The completed application must be returned to the Counseling Department at the high school of attendance no later than 3 p.m. on Wednesday, February 1. Late applications will not be accepted.

“My hope, my mission,” Pryor said, “is that through these students, and with the generosity and support of this trust fund by those who cared for Rod, his legacy will continue to make music for generations.”




Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.


  1. Grateful my brother will be remembered this way.

  2. This is another wonderful remembrance of Rod. He touched so many.

  3. In tears…this is beautiful. He is so unbelievably missed!

  4. Jay Jarrett says:

    What a beautiful way to remember an educator who touched so many lives.

  5. Peggy Melilli says:

    The wonderful things Rod wanted for his students will be ongoing, thanks to this great Scholarship Trust Fund! What a remarkable Tribute.

Leave a Comment

Related Content
Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021
Castaic Union School District (CUSD) was excited to welcome their Transitional Kindergarten-2nd grade students back to in-person instruction on Monday at Castaic Elementary, Live Oak Elementary, and Northlake Hills Elementary schools.
Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021
Students in grades seven through 12 can’t yet return to school in Los Angeles County, but William S. Hart Union High School District board members want county and state officials to prioritize the vaccination of educators to prepare for reopening.
Monday, Feb 22, 2021
California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced Monday the release of grading guidelines that address assessing student progress and the ongoing issue of equity in distance and hybrid learning environments.
Friday, Feb 19, 2021
During a special one-hour board meeting Thursday night, the Saugus Union School District’s governing board voted to begin the process of bringing the majority of the district’s students back to their elementary school classrooms for in-person instruction.
Friday, Feb 19, 2021
During another informational session Wednesday on the Hart High School Indians mascot, the William S. Hart Union High School District’s board heard from a representative of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1990 - President George H.W. Bush and Sheriff Sherman Block dedicate new North County Correctional Facility in Castaic [story]
ribbon cutting
1890 - Jenkins ranch hands Dolores Cook and George Walton of Castaic slain by rival William Chormicle and W.A. Gardener [story]
Dolores Cook
1950 - Ex-Mrs. William S. Hart appears in court to challenge will that leaves Hart Park & Mansion to L.A. County [story]
Winifred Westover
The Sand Canyon Resort project is scheduled to return before the Santa Clarita Planning Commission Tuesday with a series of revisions, following multiple concerns raised by both commissioners and residents.
Modified Sand Canyon Resort Project Up for Review
Los Angeles County Public Health officials on Friday confirmed 144 new deaths and 1,838 new cases of COVID-19 countywide, with 26,045 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Friday COVID-19 Roundup: SCV Cases Total 26,045; Nearly 2 Million Doses Administered in County
The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles announced on Feb. 26 that Kenya Yarbrough will lead its newly-created and first-ever Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, Access, and Advocacy Initiative.
Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Launches First-Ever Diversity and Advocacy Department
The Valley Industry Association will welcome College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook as the keynote speaker for the March VIA Virtual Series taking place Tuesday, March 16, from 11:00 a.m to 12:15 p.m.
March 16: VIA Virtual Series with Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook
The city of Santa Clarita’s Planning Commission will hold a regular meeting virtually Tuesday, March 2, at 6:00 p.m.
March 2: Planning Commission Virtual Regular Meeting
The Child and Family Center's Domestic Violence Program is set to host its fourth annual "Night of Expression" art exhibit on Saturday, Feb. 27, in recognition of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
Feb. 27: Child and Family Center to Host Virtual Teen Dating Violence Awareness Art Exhibit
California Department of Public Health officials announced on Feb. 26 that California is on track to create the capacity to administer 3 million vaccinations per week by March 1.
State on Track to Reach Capacity Goal of 3 Million Vaccines Per Week, Pending Available Supply
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital is set to host events and classes in March to celebrate National Nutrition Month.
Henry Mayo to Host Events, Classes for National Nutrition Month
The college district received the best rating possible in an independent audit of its general obligation bond expenditures.
Independent Audit Finds College District in Full Compliance
After being shuttered for almost a year due to pandemic restrictions, Mountasia Family Fun Center has been purchased by MB2 Group.
MB2 Group Purchases Mountasia Family Fun Center
The California Department of Motor Vehicles announced a new round of extensions for commercial driver’s licenses expiring through May 31 that will help commercial drivers focus on delivering essential products and supplies during the COVID-19 emergency.
DMV Extends Expiring Commercial Driver’s Licenses Through May
1923 - U.S. release of Charles Chaplin film "The Pilgrim," partially shot at Saugus Train Station & Newhall First Presbyterian Church [watch]
The Pilgrim
Fry's Electronics, the consumer electronics retailer, announced Wednesday that it is going out of business after nearly 36 years.
Fry’s Electronics Closing All Its Stores
The Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) announced Thursday the upcoming launch of the Los Angeles Online Dispute Resolution (LA-ODR) program, in collaboration with the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County and its Dispute Resolution Program (DRP), and the Center for Conflict Resolution.
L.A. County Launches Program to Help Litigants Settle Cases Online
A former manager of the Valencia COVID-19 testing lab is being sued by the operator for breaching her contract after she accused the company of poor performance.
PerkinElmer Suing Whistleblower for Breach of Contract
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed Thursday 132 new deaths and 2,072 new cases of COVID-19, with 25,990 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Thursday COVID-19 Roundup: SCV Cases Nearing 26,000; L.A. County Reaches 100 MIS-C Cases in Children
Three hundred sixty-six feature films are eligible for the 2020 Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today.
Academy Announces 366 Feature Films Eligible for 2020 Best Picture Oscar
Hannah Cumming is exactly the type of player Master's women's soccer head coach Curtis Lewis appreciates.
Hannah Cumming Signs with TMU
Santa Clarita City Council members declined Tuesday to administer $6.8 million in state rental assistance funds for eligible residents who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and let the state handle those dollars but approved creating a program for them with $6.3 million from the federal government.
Rental Aid Program Coming to Eligible Santa Clarita Residents Impacted by Pandemic
The Santa Clarita City Council Legislative Committee will hold a special meeting virtually Friday, Feb. 26, at 2:00 p.m. 
Feb. 26: City Council Legislative Committee Virtual Special Meeting
As Los Angelenos envision their future — whether it’s housing, parks or wellness — there is much they can learn from the past.
CSUN Collaborates with Tataviam, Indigenous Communities to Create Virtual, Ecological History Map
%d bloggers like this: